I’m a bookdealer. People always ask me what books I like to read, or what is my favorite book. Sometimes I am struck dumb trying to decide what to say. I am a quirky reader. An eclectic reader. I don’t allow bestseller lists to make my decisions for me, however, if ten customers tell me a book is good I am willing to look at it. I go free rein…wherever my mind wants to go. I will not apologize for this. Some of the greatest books have found me.
Here is a collection of books I have enjoyed. Only one is currently available for sale at the store, but you could probably order them on Bookfinder.com.
THE CATS OF LAMU by Jack Couffer
The descendants of the cats of the Egyptian Pharaohs live off the coast of Kenya on the island of Lamu. Jack Couffer studied these cats and people living together, with a naturalist’s insight into the behavior and inner workings of the pride. Couffer is a cinematographer, director, producer, with Out of Africa, Ring of Bright Water, The Incredible Journey, and numerous documentaries to his credit. This is an “enchanting” book. Dr. Jane Goodall said “The Cats of Lamu is utterly delightful…this is more than a book about cats.”
NAKED BABIES by Anna Quindlen
This book is a celebration of the beauty of the human form in its most nascent and perfect state. Quindlen’s essays are a meditation. “… any human being with the slightest bit of aesthetic intuition understands that babies are meant to be naked, as surely as they are meant to be nurtured and loved.” Great book for a new mother or (grandmother).
RATS by Robert Sullivan
Having owned pet rats for around ten years of my life, I was curious about their wild cousins. Sullivan set up his study of rats in Edens Alley, one block from Wall Street in New York City, where he observed their lives for a year (the rats, not the investors). Including interviews with exterminators and others, the book also contains chapters on the history of rats. It is a classic of urban nature writing and fascinating to me, though I can understand why you might not want to read it.
THE UNREDEEMED CAPTIVE by John Demos
This is an award-winning narrative history of a 1704 French-Indian massacre in Deerfield, Massachusetts in which a Puritan minister and part of his family were abducted and taken to Canada. Eventually everyone was released but the daughter refused to return. Extensive primary sources were pieced together for this story. I read this book years ago because there is some evidence that my family was involved in such a thing. Recent DNA testing shows that I have a tiny percentage of Native American blood that appeared somewhere between 1680 and 1780.
VIRGINIA LEE BURTON: A LIFE IN ART by Barbara Elleman 2002
Virginia Lee Burton was one of those amazing creative people who was an illustrator, printmaker, sculptor, designer, musician, and dancer. She started the Folly Cove Design Cooperative. You probably know her from one of the books you read as a child, such as Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel or The Little House. Elleman’s book is a paean to the life of an artist, lavishly illustrated with Burton’s art work and photos of her life. The book is also a work of art in itself and so very well done I treasure it. I chose this book because of my fondness for high quality children’s literature.
THE MIRROR by Marlys Millhiser.
Marvelous and highly original fiction here. Sort of a cult classic. Local writer. Set in Boulder, Colorado. On the eve of her wedding in 1978, a young woman looks into a spooky mirror and changes places in time with her grandmother. Now that’s interesting.
WINDOWLIGHT by Ann Nietzke
This was published in 1981. I may have read it that long ago. I’d like to read it again. It struck me as a book with a lot of heart and wisdom. It is a fictionalized story of living amongst the denizens of Venice, California. If you’ve ever been to Venice you know what I’m getting at.
THE NYMPHO AND OTHER MANIACS by Irving Wallace
The lives, loves, and adventures of some 30 scandalous liberated ladies of the last two centuries who were daringly rebelling against convention. I read it so long ago. Today’s readers on Goodreads are particularly divided on their opinions of it…all the way from one to five stars. I remember it as enlightening in 1971 when the Women’s Movement was just beginning to teach us our forgotten history.
THE BONES OF PLENTY by Lois Phillip Hudson (1962)
The story of a family on a North Dakota wheat farm during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Partly autobiographical. Highlights of some truly great writing. Overall grim, emotional reading, but I vote it better than The Grapes of Wrath.
THE LOST ART OF LISTENING by Michael Nichols, Ph.D.
This book is about what is true listening and why people don’t listen. Listening is co-determined. The best way to ensure that you’ll be heard is to invite the other person to explain his viewpoint before you present yours. What makes someone not want to listen to you? What makes a person someone you want to listen to? What kind of a listener are you? My copy of this book is falling apart, underlined, highlighted, written in. Not listening or being listened to is one of the fundamental problems in relationships. This book should be required reading.
DAUGHTERS OF COPPER WOMAN by Anne Cameron
Mythic tales from the native people of Vancouver Island. Considered eco-feminist and somewhat “subversive.” As a woman, I found it very empowering.